A companion blog to my memoir, "Sting of the Heat Bug"
Some poems in Donna Marie Merritt’s new chapbook, We Walk Together, will speak to you; some may not. For me, the first six poems were insightful glimpses into everyday life but lacked that emotional twist a really great poem delivers. Then I read “One,” 16 short lines about a mugging. I won’t spoil it for you, but in those 59 words Merritt has woven an entire short story with a happy ending.
And then, on the next page, I read the less happy “Two.” Same situation: a woman’s purse is stolen, but this time it’s like a cruel joke Cantabile plays on Charlie Citrine in Saul Bellow’s novel Humboldt’s Gift. That’s a spoiler only if you’ve read the novel.
“Vacancy” is a touching poem about a mysterious man who captures the poet’s imagination just by squatting alone all day by a fire hydrant and then disappearing. Merritt imagines a contented domestic life for the man who is probably homeless.
Love and hope are constant themes in all of Merritt’s poetry books, but they seem more intense in this rich collection. In “What Do We Know of Others?” she imagines an entire family saga after discovering only an ocean-tossed, charred wooden door on the beach. In “Staying,” she bares her soul for us in a touching scene between her and her husband. “Midnight” will appeal to young mothers who know they must sacrifice for their children. “It’s Not Her” will tear your heart out.
Finally, her closing poem, “It Has to Be Possible,” encapsulates the theme of the book, an urgent call to pay “Attention to one another / Attention to their children / Togetherness and memories of togetherness….” The final line spells it out:
“Hope for us all.”
Donna Marie Merritt will sign copies of We Walk Together (Beech Hill Publishing Company) this Saturday, Dec. 5, from 2-4 p.m. at Hickory Stick Bookshop, 2 Green Hill Rd., Washington Depot, CT 06794. To reserve a copy, call the Hickory Stick at 860-868-0525. I believe Christmas gift wrapping is available at the book store.